Opinion Article

Seeking solutions in horror-scope

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 25 November 2008, 20:19 GMT]
Ever since the Sri Lankan polity has become violent and belligerent, the top Sinhala politicians have abandoned the rational Heenayaana Buddhism to become Tantrics or perhaps Vajrayaana Buddhists. It has now become a routine for them to consult astrologers, seek propitiation or instigation from Malayala Tantrics and to undertake pilgrimages to temples and establishments of god-men in India just like visiting Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and M.K. Narayanan. They leave no stone unturned in winning the war with Tamils, writes Opinion Columnist Ampalam.

A former senior professor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University of New Delhi used to joke to his students how crazy the Sri Lankan politicians are about astrology and Sai Baba.

He was decorated with the highest national award of Sri Lanka meant for foreigners, ‘Sri Lanka Ratna’, a few years ago, by the then president of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Kumarathunga. The don perhaps deserves the award for at least coming out with the profound truth about the ‘guiding lines’ of Sri Lankan polity.

But it is not as though the politicians of India or elsewhere are free from superstitions. From time to time one hears about Tantric practices, ranging from Yajnas to horrific inhuman acts, performed by politicians greedy for power.

The gullibility of the politicians and top bureaucrats has set the arena for the so-called god-men, Tantrics and star-tellers to have their sway in wielding indirect power. Such a coterie in the portals of the power centres of India is everybody’s knowledge.

Ranil Mahinda Tantric
Ranil Mahinda Tantric
Armed police protection for Ranil Wickramasinghe at the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine for Saturn at Thirukko'l'likkaadu
Rajapaksa Guruvayur
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa performing 'Thulaaparam' (donating anything equivalent to one's weight) at Guruvayur Krishnan temple in Kerala, India. [Photo courtesy: The Hindu]
Ranil Wikcramasinghe visits Thirukko'l'likkaadu Saneeswarer temple
Ranil Wickramasinghe at the temple for Saturn in Thirukko’l’likkaadu in Tamil Nadu
Ranil Wikcramasinghe visits Thirukko'l'likkaadu Saneeswarer temple
Ranil Wickramasinghe worshipping at the temple for Saturn. He is clad in blue to propitiate Saturn
Ranil Wikcramasinghe visits Thirukko'l'likkaadu Saneeswarer temple
Villagers and Communist Party of India (CPI) activists blockading the car carrying Mr. Wickramasinghe
Ranil Wikcramasinghe visits Thirukko'l'likkaadu Saneeswarer temple
The women of a village showing black flag to Mr. Wickramasinghe. Ironically, black is the colour for Saturn.
Ranil Wikcramasinghe visits Thirukko'l'likkaadu Saneeswarer temple
The Tamil Nadu police trying to negotiate passage for the car carrying the former prime minister and the present opposition leader of Sri Lanka
Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming (1908 - 1964), the spy-master, who effectively used astrology in the war against Hitler
Coin: Julius Caesar
'Caesar, beware the ides of March,' cried the soothsayer. But, Caesar wanted to uphold politics above superstition. Shakespeare's Caesar stood on such a rational platform that even though he was assassinated, his 'ghost' was there to take care of the rest of the events.
Ever since the Sri Lankan polity has become violent and belligerent, the top Sinhala politicians have abandoned the rational Heenayaana Buddhism to become Tantrics or perhaps Vajrayaana Buddhists.

It has now become a routine for them to consult astrologers, seek propitiation or instigation from Malayala Tantrics and to undertake pilgrimages to temples and establishments of god-men in India, just like visiting Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and M.K. Narayanan.

They leave no stone unturned in winning the war with Tamils.

It now seems that there is a competition between the president and the Leader of the Opposition of Sri Lanka in this regard.

Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is reported to be an ardent devotee of the Guruvaayoor temple in Kerala for a long time. After winning the presidential elections against Ranil, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa made it a point to visit Guruvaayoor in January 2006 to perform the Thulaapaaram ritual, donating Ghee.

The latest event is a pilgrimage undertaken by Ranil, after visiting politicians and bureaucrats in Delhi, to get rid of the affliction of Sani (Saturn) at a temple in Thirukko’l’likkaadu, a remote place in the Thiruththu’raippoo’ndi Taluk of the Thiruvaaroor district of Tamil Nadu.

The temple and the shrine of Saturn there has come to limelight through some new myths and Ranil’s visit to this obscure temple was presumably on the advice of some astrologer.

Even though Ranil’s visit was kept a top secret by the intelligence services and the Tamil Nadu police, the news somehow leaked to the villagers and they staged a furious agitation blockading his convey at seven places.

At a place called Ko’radaachcheari, they placed their bullock carts across the road and agitated.

When Ranil reached the temple he had to face a protesting crowd of around 500 people including a large number of women. The police force was not enough to control the crowd.

After the visit to the temple Ranil had to slip away nervously, telling the people that he will be a helping element in Tamils getting their rights.

The Taluk in which the temple is situated is a stronghold of the Communist Party of India. Obviously, the party activists played a leading role in organising the spontaneous sentiments of the villagers for the protest.

It is not that always the astrologers make politicians gullible.

Often intelligence agencies and unscrupulous politicians employ astrologers and exploit astrology in their psychological wars, to achieve their political ends, because people are gullible.

Ian Fleming, the creator of the legendary spy character James Bond, was himself a high-ranking spy in his real life, working for the MI6 during the Second Word War. He was learned in astrology and effectively made use of it to convince a deputy of Hitler to land in Scotland and surrender to the British during the War.

Astrological columns written during election times have political functions.

A careful perusal of some of the well-known astrological magazines of India would show how partial they are towards certain international and domestic systems. Despite their tall claims for amazing predictions one may find that their failures are more in number than their successes.

A hot astrological topic now is Pirapakaran.

Deccan Chronicle recently came out with a feature, citing a ‘court astrologer’ of Mahinda Rajapaksa that Pirapakaran’s life is not in danger, but he may soon have to retire from his mission and leave the country. There after, the astrologer is reported to have predicted, the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka will find a solution through Indian efforts. The astrologer also promises another term of office for Mahinda.

Who, except an intelligence agency that is well known in the region, would be the happiest, if the Tamils take it, wondered a political analyst.

This astrologer, a Sri Lankan passport holder, was practising in Colombo for a long time. He was later overstaying in India for many years, until discovered by Mahinda Rajapaksa for successful predictions on his victory and made as his astro-consultant.

Today’s generation may wonder how a personality like Mahatma Gandhi, despite his strong religious inclinations, never stooped down to such superstitions in his politics or never allowed them to play a role. He was spiritual, that’s why.

He strongly upheld a philosophy that was handed down to him by all profound thoughts of India ranging from Gita to Jainism and Budhhism, that once an individual genuinely commits himself or herself to the cause of the public, righteousness takes charge of that person. Such people don’t consider the vagaries of destiny personally onto themselves.

The Chaiva readers may recollect the verse Koa’l-a’ru Pathikam of saint Champanthar when he was cautioned against his visit to Mathurai, citing that the stars were not in his favour.

Shakespeare’s characterization of Julius Caesar is a classic example of the norm in Western political thought for politicians to keep themselves above superstition.

Whether individuals make history or history identifies individuals is an eternal debate in historiography. But modern historiography largely favours the latter.

A righteous cause is always more powerful than the destinies and superstitious rituals of selfish politicians.

However, we now live in a time witnessing these bunches of politicians having no honesty or confidence in what they are doing, running after horoscope readers and god-men, either impelled by their greed or when they collapse under the weight of the horrors of their own deeds.

Since astrological interpretations are subjective, astrologers are clever in coming out with words of multiple meanings.

The writer is reminded of a story of an astrologer lived in Araali, Jaffna in the early 19th century, whom when consulted by Muthusamy, the contender for the Kingdom of Kandy, predicted that he would get the kingdom, but not without facing 'Ariya'ndam' before and afterwards. Ariya'ndam is a word ordinarily means annoyance, but has several other meanings in abstract.

Bitten by a snake (Ari) while in Jaffna, Muthusamy became the king for a few months at Kandy, but his head was literally served on a platter (Ari-ka'ndam) by the British to appease his cousin Kannusamy alias Sri Vikrama Raja Sinha, the last king of Kandy.

A god-man for whose mere glance, millions of lay devotees would yearn for years, use to be very liberal in receiving generations of Sri Lankan politicians. They are usually blessed with astrologically chosen jewellery such as a necklace of rubies for a leader to appease the Sun or a ring with emerald for a diplomat to appease Mercury.

But we have never seen any of the politicians returning changed or becoming benevolent to people, after their visits.

The politicians who are ruthless and never yield in to genuine grievances and rational demands of the people are prepared to fall at the feet of god-men for trivial occurrences beyond their comprehension.

The credulous politicians are yet to realize that the best propitiation is nothing but the practice of righteous politics and finding political solutions to the human crisis they themselves have unleashed upon the people.


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